Arts of the Americas
On View: Special Exhibition Gallery, 5th Floor
Nineteenth-century depictions of Native people by European colonizers have long obscured the cultural vibrancy of Indigenous artistic traditions, as exemplified by this delicately carved wood bowl adorned with two human faces in relief. A brass plate covering a large crack on one side shows that the owner repaired it, indicating that the bowl was a treasured item likely passed down from generation to generation. If it was collected in Fort Snelling, Minnesota, in the 1830s, it may have traveled with Lenape refugees fleeing north to Wisconsin or Ontario, Canada.
early 19th century
7 1/4 x 14 x 14 in. (18.4 x 35.6 x 35.6 cm) (show scale)
Henry L. Batterman Fund and the Frank Sherman Benson Fund
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Delaware. Bowl, early 19th century. Wood, brass, 7 1/4 x 14 x 14 in. (18.4 x 35.6 x 35.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Henry L. Batterman Fund and the Frank Sherman Benson Fund, 50.67.161. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 50.67.161_view01_PS11.jpg)
overall, 50.67.161_view01_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2020
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Wooden bowl with schematic faces carved in relief on two vertical, stepped-shaped, rim lugs, which are located opposite each other. The wood grain shows on the bowl along with some dark stains in the interior bottom. The brass is a Native repair. Wooden bowls with images generally were treasured and inherited, passed from generation to generation.
Although the Delaware are often thought of as located in the eastern part of the North American continent, by 1700 they were forced out of the northeast and became refugees, migrating throughout Ohio, Indiana and Kansas, as far north as Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada, and as far south as Oklahoma and Texas. Such bowls would have traveled with them. The northern groups who settled in Wisconsin and Ontario may have visited Fort Snelling, Minnesota where the collector Nathan Sturges Jarvis was stationed.
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